This is my Dad’s hammer.

He passed away when he was 51.

It is the only ‘thing’ of his I wanted.

I feel him when I use it.

I feel like he was rather glad to go.

He dealt with alcoholism, a critical wife, ineptness in the fathering department and a general hyper-sensitivity which made being in the world awkward if not painful.

His legacy to me includes supporting my creativity. He never urged me toward a “safe” career in the arts like graphics or advertising (meaning a count-on-able paycheck).

He let me bloom as the artist I was to become by inviting me into his fully outfitted workshop.

There were huge power saws and quite dangerous tools to be curious about.

Mostly silently he taught me to trust myself with such power.

He showed me rather than told me;

Guided my small hands as I made a cut with a jigsaw.

His safe place was this very room; smelling of turpentine, sawdust, enameling chemicals, various glues.

One time when I was very young I went down there by myself and drank some of that turpentine.

I can’t imagine why except the fact it reminded me of him.

My stomach was pumped and I am still here.

I always thought I might have loved working in a hardware store.

Guys being guys, the grail quest for the perfect bolt, comparing the virtues of snow shovels..

I suppose I will always like to make things

However my hands do not obey these days.

So- what’s a girl to do, I ask you?

In lieu of manual dexterity

I am making a life.


3 Responses to “Tools”

  1. Barbara McDaniel on June 12th, 2014

    Bravo – for both your spirit and for conjuring the sensory experience of a workshop. My Dad had one too – in the basement, with saws, an old wooden workbench, and shelves full of baby food jars filled with screws, washers, nuts and bolts. He had a tall stool that swiveled and i can still remember the sound it made each time he sat on it. I worked at Dammon hardware on Maple Rd in high school, and I loved it. Thanks for the memories Cathy!

  2. Barry on June 13th, 2014

    A beautiful homage to your father, despite his shortcomings, and your disappointments.

  3. Irene Peake on June 15th, 2014

    My father died at 56…his heart gave out, too much stress at home and at work.
    My father-in-law was a master carpenter…we have his overalls in a drawer and all his tools in the basement. When he was 80, he came out of retirement in Honolulu to help us put a new roof on our house…the airlines confiscated his favorite hammer which he had put in his suitcase. He was heartbroken.

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